One of my main goals when I came abroad, similar to most students studying abroad, was to make the most out of how easily accessible travel is in Europe. Although weekend trips to other countries are always incredible, I've also enjoyed spending weekends in Italy and taking day trips. Because of Milan's central location, it's quite easy to hop on a train or bus and get to a neighboring city in less than 2 hours. One-day excursions have many advantages, one of the biggest being they're a huge cost-saver because there's no need to find accommodation. Not to mention train and bus tickets within Italy can often be less than €20, depending how close your destination is. Seeing the rest of Europe is a great option, but don't forget to explore all the places your host country has to offer! Here are a few easy day trips from Milan that I would recommend for the next time you're itching to travel.
Planning a day trip a couple weeks in advance can be to your advantage because tickets, especially if you want to go by train, are always the cheapest when bought further out, and can be significantly more expensive if bought a couple days before.
This charming and culturally rich city just south of Milan can be reached in about an hour by train. Although you will find tourists here, the crowds are not overwhelming because it's primarily a student city with the university being the oldest in the world (established in 1088!). From finding works by Michelangelo to eating some of the best food, a day will easily fly when spent here. A cool secret about Bologna? The city used to resemble Venice and had an entire network of canals that were buried in the 1950s. If you want to see the remains, take a walk down Via Piella and look for a small window in the wall to get a glimpse.
In about an hour and 15 minutes, you will arrive to the romantic home of Juliet's famous balcony. Verona is very walkable and within a few hours, you can make a circle that will bring you to all the important sites. My personal favorite was climbing to the top of Piazzale Castel San Pietro around sunset and getting a breathtaking view of the city.
An hour away, this city famous for violin-making awaits. There are many violin workshops that you can enter or just admire the impressive window displays. Every year Cremona hosts the Festival of Torrone, which if you're a foodie like myself, is great to visit for lots of free samples and buying traditional Italian foods. There are also many concerts that are held throughout the day.
If you study abroad in Milan, you will most likely take the shuttle that's just under an hour, to the Bergamo airport for a flight. However, this city has a lot more than just an airport. The city is divided into the upper and lower parts (Città Alta and Città Bassa). The upper part of the city holds many of the historic sites, and has perfect views of the Alps. On a nice day, take a hike around the Cinta Muraria, the remains of the Venetian wall that once surrounded the Città Alta. From here you will be able to look over the Città Bassa.
5. Lake Como
If you don't already associate Lake Como as the place where George Clooney goes to vacation, then let me be the first to tell you that George Clooney has a vacation home here. Lake Como is actually one of the closer places to get to from Milan, reachable in about 40 minutes. It is located right on the border of Italy and Switzerland and landscaped by the magnificent Alps. From hiking to visiting historical sites (and trying to find George Clooney), Lake Como has it all. And if you go in the warmer months, swimming and other water activities are also possible!
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Abigail is our 2016-17 IES Abroad Blogger of the Year! Abigail studies Economics and International Studies with a minor in Business Administration at Brandeis University—where she is also an IES Abroad Ambassador. As a Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 Blogger, Abigail illustrated her year abroad in Milan through her insightful posts and candid photography that navigated her growth in the historical city of Milan.